One day, while preaching in Egypt, the patron of Venice St Mark had quite a major problem if you need to walk: the strap of his shoe fell off. He then met a cobbler and asked him if he could repair his sandal. There he stood, the Evangelist, with his bare foot while a turbaned man, named Anianus, took care of his shoe. Too much enthusiasm or maybe some distraction and the awl slipped in Anianus’ hand and pierced it. Then Mark miracoulously healed the wound with a medication composed of his own saliva.

Apart from the ancient medicament, not exactly appealing even if apparently working, the story shows that for saints it’s easier to make a miracle than fixing a shoe 🙂 And it shows why the shoemakers of Venice, called “calegheri” were very proud of Anianus, who not only repaired the shoe but was baptised by St Mark and became the second Patriarch of the coptic christian church in Alexandria. Here are Mark and Anianus at the entrance of the Guild of shoemakers in Venice:

Bas-relief in Venice: The shoemakers' guild with St Mark healing Anianus

Bas-relief in Venice: The shoemakers’ guild with St Mark healing Anianus

With such a famous protector making shoes became a real art in Venice!

And as we know price for beauty is always high, in the past the rich ladies of the aristocracy and the courtesans wore platform shoes that defied any height and officially helped not get dirty in the muddy calle of Venice. How could you walk with these shoes on? Please don’t underestimate the imagination of the Venetian ladies: you always had your cavalier servente (the serving knight) on whom to hold while staggering around and viewing everyone from above. Have a look:

Women's shoes used in Venice, Correr Museum

Women’s shoes used in Venice, Correr Museum

 

But especially this is the best known pair of shoes in ancient Venice:

 

Women's shoes used in Venice, Correr Museum

Women’s shoes used in Venice, Correr Museum

 

Not too far from the house which Marco Polo built on his way back to Venice from Asia, a tiny colorful window will attract your attention. There you find the wonderful shoes by Giovanna Zanella, completely hand made, literally tailored to your taste and feet:

Giovanna Zanella, Hand-made Shoes in Venice

Giovanna Zanella, Hand-made Shoes in Venice

Giovanna Zanella, Hand-made Shoes in Venice

Giovanna Zanella, Hand-made Shoes in Venice

Giovanna Zanella, Hand-made Shoes in Venice

Giovanna Zanella, Hand-made Shoes in Venice

Giovanna learnt from the old master Rolando Segalin who we all remember for the fancy shoes shaped as gondolas and not just. She was unhappy with the shoes you buy, she says. Uncomfortable, not much sense of humour nor imagination. Like her master, she studies your feet, your wishes, how much you will walk and will give you something that will last very long:

Giovanna Zanella, Hand-made Shoes in Venice

Giovanna Zanella, Hand-made Shoes in Venice

Here is where the independent feminine imagination meets with love for uniqueness, great personality… and quality 🙂

by Luisella Romeo
registered tourist guide in Venice, Italy
www.seevenice.it

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Showing 4 comments
  • Rob
    Reply

    Very interesting article Luisella. If we are near Giovanna’s store you should point it out to us.

    • blogseevenice
      Reply

      I will, she’s such a great person!!!

  • gailey Browning
    Reply

    This is just amazing. The shoes are beautiful. Can hardly wait to go to this shop

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